To the Editor: Where were TEA Parties when Bush outspent Clinton?

Having recently seen pictures of the July 4th TEA Party in Perrysburg, I could not help but respond to
the one-sided and misguided nature of the protest. The ideas advanced on the signs people held appeared
to be at best arbitrary attacks on President Obama, and at worst misunderstandings of the nature of
freedoms and rights.
Two main themes appeared: one, that government spending is an evil; and two, that taxation restricts
freedoms. It is meaningless to criticize only Obama for such spending. I don’t remember any such parties
when Bush’s spending surpassed Clinton’s.
Another main theme was taxes, supposedly an evil because they restrict our freedoms. Which freedoms are
we talking about, and whose freedoms? One of the unpleasant realities of life is that taxes are
necessary in order to protect individual liberties. Unlimited freedom for everybody would inevitably
mean that many people’s freedoms would be infringed upon. Every time any law is imposed, such as
outlawing theft or even murder, some of our freedoms are taken away. This is necessary to protect
everyone’s right to life and freedom from theft. By restricting everyone’s actions to some extent, we
allow everyone to have more liberty.
It appears that the only freedoms the protesters were referring to were freedom from taxes. But what
about all the other liberties we enjoy that are protected through taxation? The protesters were
concerned only with consumer freedoms-the freedom to do what one will with one’s money-as opposed to
citizen freedoms, such as access to education, free speech, the freedom to enjoy public green spaces,
and to not have one’s health compromised by others, etc. The funny thing about citizen freedoms is that
they erode when everyone is given complete liberty.
One sign read "What good will saving the earth be if you don’t have any freedoms left to enjoy
it?" Which freedoms are being lost, for instance, due to cap and trade programs? The freedom for
companies to emit as much carbon dioxide as they wish. But look at the freedoms gained by such a
program: the freedom to breathe cleaner air, to fish and have bountiful harvests, and to enjoy species
diversity, to name a few. Certainly, a small group of industrialists loses a particular,
less-than-essential freedom, but the entire populace gains a multitude of other freedoms.
It wouldn’t work to have some services paid for on a voluntary basis. It is necessary to tax everyone, so
that everyone pays a fair amount but everyone gains. Basic services such as education, infrastructure
maintenance, and fire protection illustrate the need for a government to ensure that no one person’s
liberty overrides the liberties of others. And this is why the criticisms against mere taxation and
spending fall short.
To a more complex understanding of liberty,
Ian Santino
Bowling Green